Beijing Irked By Bo Xilai’s Military Ties

As the Communist Party continues to investigate former Chongqing boss Bo Xilai for “serious disciplinary violations,” The Wall Street Journal uncovers an early February visit by Bo to a Kunming military complex with ties to his father, a visit which came as Bo was treading political water after his former police chief turned up at the U.S. consulate in Chengdu to make allegations against the Bo family. The visit, and Beijing’s reaction, sheds light on the importance of Bo’s links to the military and the implications they might have on China’s upcoming leadership transition:

By visiting the military base in Yunnan province, Mr. Bo appeared to be flaunting his revolutionary ancestry and courting political support from the People’s Liberation Army at a time when his career was in crisis, according to Communist Party and military officials. “Bo’s trip to Yunnan caught people at the highest level off guard,” said one high-ranking military officer.

Mr. Bo’s ties to the military and his irregular use of his police forces are now key elements of the investigation at the heart of China’s worst political crisis in more than two decades, the officials said. The saga also could affect the contours of a planned leadership succession in the fall.

At least two prominent army generals have been questioned about their connections to Mr. Bo and other senior officers are under scrutiny, said officials, military officers and diplomats briefed on the situation.

Because of the turmoil, Hu Jintao, who is expected to step down as China’s party chief this fall and president in March, is more likely to continue for another year or two as head of the Central Military Commission, which controls the armed forces, analysts said.